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20 of your tales of vegetarian woe
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What do vegetarians eat in a country where refusing meat is regarded as a sign of madness? A Magazine feature published last week raised this question, and there was a huge response from readers. It might be tomato pasta. Again. Or salad. Plain rice. Or vegetable stew... with lumps of chicken to pick out. For the BBC's Dany Mitzman in Bologna, Italy - where vegetarianism is seen as an exotic illness - it's tagliatelle with mushrooms. Here is a selection of tales from our vegetarian readers trying to find meat-free options when far from home. 1. Breanna, Whistler, Canada: I was a vegan when I moved to West Africa in 2002. I rapidly started eating dairy, eggs and fish again just to be able to survive. I not only encountered bewilderment but inevitably would get asked "why no meat?" and end up in long discussions where my friends and colleagues tried to convert me. I tried every explanation: loving animals, hating plants, being a Buddhist, but all in vain. After a few months, I finally hit upon gold. I simply told people that my grandfather had forbidden it before he died. Nobody would dream of asking me - an unmarried young woman - to go against my grandfather's wishes. After that, everyone went out of their way to find meatless dishes for me to eat. 2. Lucy, Glasgow: In Cuba, a very helpful restaurateur bent over backwards when I told him, "soy vegetariano". However, when he served me my plate of crisps, grilled vegetables, beans and rice, he proclaimed: "But you cannot be a vegetarian - you're not skinny!" 3. Grant Finepen, Subic, Philippines: Try being a vegetarian in Texas. My friend went to a BBQ and said he didn't eat meat so, after many sympathetic words of consolation, he was given a burger bun with a salad. Don't you ever feel like you're dying for steak?”’ 4. Phil, Riccione, Italy: When I first moved to Italy, everyone thought my vegetarianism was odd, but my wife's nonna [grandmother] thought it was extremely suspicious. Initially, when we were invited for lunch, she would try to tempt me with all manner of cooked beasts. After failing to win me over, she now cooks separate "vegetarian" pasta sauce just for me, but she sneaks finely-minced meat into it. My wife caught her in the act, to which her defence was "Keep quiet! Everybody needs to eat meat. Besides, otherwise it won't taste as good." 5. Angus Gafraidh, London, UK: The French are overwhelmingly in favour of animal rights, in that every animal has the right to be eaten by a French person. While staying in Bayeux I ordered a meat- free salad and was served a tuna salad. When I explained that I didn't eat any form of meat including fish, the waiter retreated into the kitchen, a puzzled and slightly outraged look on his face. One by one the kitchen staff poked their heads out for a shifty look at this strange creature who did not eat animals. Eventually I ended up with a slightly misshapen cheese quiche - I am sure they had laboriously picked the ham pieces out - and a salad that smelled faintly of tuna. Next time I will take my own sandwiches. 6. Demarest Campbell, San Francisco, US: In South Africa, requesting vegetables is like swearing at the wait-staff. One bewildered waiter told me haughtily, "But, vegetables is what food eats." Next
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